Thursday, June 20, 2024

San Francisco Mayoral Candidate Debate

A debate between five candidates for San Francisco Mayor was held Monday evening at the new UC San Francisco Law Center building at the corner of McAllister and Hyde.
Supporters of all five candidates marched about on the sidewalk with signage, with Daniel Lurie having the largest turnout.
The gleaming new building is just a stone's throw away from one of the seedier blocks in the Tenderloin but the doorman for the free, fully booked event was genially competent.
San Francisco is a one-party town for Democrats, who were hosting the debate...
...and various schismatic organizations were represented...
...including the San Francisco Young Democrats who were represented by the amiable, not-young volunteers above.
The basement auditorium held about 500 people, and I was reminded once again what a small village San Francisco can sometimes be. I ran into a lovely ex-colleague I had not seen in 30 years who was there to support Mark Farrell. "I went to the same school as him," she explained, and I replied, "Oh, right, you were part of what I used to call the Convent of the Sacred Heart Girls School coven."
The moderator was KRON-TV reporter Terisa Estacio, who did a fine job keeping the answers to their time limits and firmly shutting down a few of Mayor Breed's more boorish supporters. For one of the better descriptions of the political implications of the debate, check out this article at Mission Local by Junyao Yang.
The first candidate to open with a 90-second opening statement was Mark Farrell, former Supervisor from the Marina District and interim mayor for 6 months when Ed Lee dropped dead while in office. In her rebuttal to an accusation by Farrell, London Breed sarcastically called him "temporary mayor" more than once. Farrell's major theme seemed to be "I'm a native-born San Franciscan and have lived here all my life," and "we need police officers who are native-born," which didn't make much sense.
Ahsha Safaí, the District 11 Supervisor from the Southeast, spoke well and presented his boilerplate speeches with skill. San Francisco has a ranked choice voting system so it's possible he could win with enough third place votes.
Daniel Lurie is an heir to the Levi-Strauss fortune and has been involved with left-leaning nonprofits through his adult life. He's being accused of trying to buy the election, but I think his motives are less about power and more about trying to fix the incompetence and corruption of San Francisco government under Mayor London Breed. Lurie, however, projects zero political charisma even though he seems like a smart and thoughtful person.
That incompetence and corruption certainly didn't start with London Breed. It's structural and she's merely been its caretaker. To give her credit, surrounded by white guys in dull suits and ties, she behaved and looked like a charismatic star and she projects pugilistic power which none of her competitors do.
District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin has seemingly been around forever, but he only turned 60 on this debate night. I'll be voting for him strictly on the basis of competence. He knows how this government works and he's honest. Will he be able to change the old-fashioned pay-for-play corruption? Probably not, but at least he might make a difference.


Lisa Hirsch said...

Here I am, reading about power and corruption on the day that the FBI raided the mayor of Oakland's home.

Civic Center said...

Dear Lisa: As bad aa the structural corruption and incompetence is in San Francisco government, the city of Oakland definitely has us beat in that competition.

Jim Meehan said...

I don't care if the mayor "projects zero political charisma." I really do care that the mayor is "a smart and thoughtful person."

janinsanfran said...

Love your description of Breed - "caretaker of corruption." That's good. Thanks Willie!

Will vote for Peskin. He knows where the bodies are buried. And even where what levers of competence still survive. What a job!

Civic Center said...

Dear Jim: Fortunately or unfortunately, you're not the only voter.

Dear Jan: I love your phrase "what levers of competence still survive."